Recent news stories are saying that many people are being surprised by high out-of-pocket costs for medical care, including emergency care. Having health insurance doesn’t mean you have coverage or access to health care.
In a recent national poll, nearly all emergency physicians say that patients don’t understand what their insurance policy covers for emergency care. The average American’s deductible is more money than they have in liquid savings. Each day, emergency physicians — myself included — see patients who have significant co-pays, up to $400 or more, for emergency care. For many, it’s too much of a financial burden and will deter them from seeking emergency care when they need it. It’s incredibly dangerous.
A health care system with insurance coverage that offers little while still costing too much is not fair to consumers or the providers who attempt to provide them care in an environment where patients are risking their lives because of their financial fears.
Patients can’t choose where or when they will need emergency care and should not be punished financially for having emergencies. Health insurance companies must provide fair and cost effective coverage to patients and fair reimbursement to the physicians providing the care.
Thomas Tobin, M.D.